Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day: A Day of Gratitude For Those Who Fought To Preserve Our Freedoms

America's veterans are truly our nation's heroes. We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who answered our country’s call to fight on land, in the air, and by the sea in every part of the world so our freedoms may be preserved. Each generation of Americans has an obligation to ensure our veterans legacy of courage and sacrifices shall never be forgotten. God bless our veterans and God Bless America!

Monday, January 16, 2012


As a citizen and school board member, I'm extremely alarmed NJ legislators on both sides of the aisle approved legislation that will move the school board elections to November but more importantly, take away the public's right to vote on school budgets.

In my opinion, this legislation is supported by dubious arguments that cloud the heart of the matter , i.e., it tramples on our most precious and powerful right as citizens and virtually snuffs out direct participatory democracy in public education. I'm not at all convinced by the primary stance taken by the sponsors of this bill. They believe moving the elections will benefit the public by increasing voter interest and participation in school board elections thereby producing a better quality of school board candidates who will act responsibly when it comes to school spending. I would argue this, in fact, will not be the case since there is a plummeting trust in government and increased apathy by voters. I would argue even further that voting on the school budget actually increases civic engagement and is oftentimes the only reason people are motivated to come out and vote in school elections. In any case, what I am most certain of is the folly of passing a law that takes away the people's right to vote. To do so will only move government further away from the people's control and reduce accountability of our local elected school officials.

When this legislation was first introduced and voted on in the Assembly several years back, former Assemblyman Merkt voted "NO" and said this proposed legislation was an "invasion of people's right to vote" and "fundamentally undemocratic". He also said, "It's part of a very disturbing trend in New Jersey government where the people are seeing more and more of their rights withdrawn and too few protesting the erosion of our democratic rights" and I couldn't agree with him more! If the Governor and our legislators could only see, as I have, how school boards and members of the education establishment are already rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of no longer having to answer to the public on the courses and programs they select for our children or how they spend our tax dollars on school operations, facilities, and staffing.

Public education is supposed to be the keystone of democracy and the public should not be denied the right to have a direct say on their school district's educational ideology and on how their tax dollars are spent. Believe me when I tell you, without a vote on the school budget, "we, the people", will not only lose what little input we have now on our school district's education policy making, we will also lose what little there is of holding school boards and administrators accountable for how they spend our tax dollars. Our legislators need to realize taking away the public's right to vote on school budgets will have detrimental consequences. Although the 2% cap has helped reign in out of control school spending, in no way is this cap the "magic bullet" it's been touted to be. This cap will limit school spending but it does not necessarily mean a school budget is educationally or financially responsible. As a school board member, I have witnessed this first hand and I believe most living in New Jersey would testify to the fact the cap has far from alleviated them from their property tax woes. The reality is, cap or no cap, the practice of wise, prudent,and transparent spending seems to have eluded most school boards. The perfect example of this is outlined in a recent report issued by the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey which uncovers the true per pupil costs in our school districts and the need for transparency in local school spending.

Without the school budget vote, the good people of this state would totally have to rely on school boards to do the right thing as elected representatives. One just has to look at our property taxes to figure out the majority of school boards have not done the right thing thus far. And from my perspective as an insider, I can say without hesitation, we just cannot afford to take the chance of taking away the public's right to vote on school budgets.

The bottom line is the school budget vote is the only real leverage the public has to hold school boards accountable as their school district's fiduciary trustees and to ensure budget allocations best reflect the needs of the community.

Lastly, our legislators must understand that the annual school budget is the board’s preeminent policy statement and the budget preparation process is one of the board’s most important duties. Not only must a school board have a proactive and creative involvement throughout the budget development process, they are also supposed to provide for community input during this process, but I will argue that, more times than not, this is not the case. The correct solution is not taking away our vote on school budgets, but passing legislation that will make voting on school budgets more meaningful. The school budget process should be more transparent and there should be more than one mandated public hearing so as to allow MORE public input. Moreover, if a budget is defeated, the recommended cuts made by the municipal governing body should not be allowed to be overturned through an appeal process.

Securing the power of our vote as free people and having a true voice in education outweigh any supposed benefits from signing this bill into law.

Friday, November 11, 2011



Veterans Day is a day to commemorate the remarkable men and women of America's Armed Forces for their patriotism, courage, and sacrifices. Please remember to thank our veterans and support our active personnel valiantly serving to protect our country and preserve freedom in America and around the world.  The best way to honor veterans is to support the organizations that help them. Please give your time and donations to accredited Veterans Support Organizations and your local veterans organizations chartered by Congress.

History of Veterans Day:



The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release


Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America's ideals, our service members have ensured our country still stands strong, our founding principles still shine, and nations around the world know the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm's way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.

Our men and women in uniform are bearers of a proud military tradition that has been dutifully passed forward -- from generation to generation -- for more than two centuries. In times of war and peace alike, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved. The selflessness of our service members is unmatched, and they remind us that there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others.

Just as our veterans stood watch on freedom's frontier, so have they safeguarded the prosperity of our Nation in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes. As teachers and engineers, doctors and parents, these patriots have made contributions to civilian life that serve as a testament to their dedication to the welfare of our country. We owe them a debt of honor, and it is our moral obligation to ensure they receive our support for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. This year, as our troops in Iraq complete their mission, we will honor them and all who serve by working tirelessly to give them the care, the benefits, and the opportunities they have earned.

On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country's call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2011, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Friday, September 16, 2011


Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day,a day to remember and reflect on the cost of freedom. We must never forget the untold sacrifices made by the valiant men and women of our Armed Forces who went to war and suffered cruel imprisonment by the enemies or still remain missing with their fates unknown. There are still over 83,000 members of our Armed Forces missing in action.

Let us take the time today to honor the valor of America’s POWs and MIAs and give continuing support to their families and loves ones.

Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 15, 2011
Presidential Proclamation -- National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2011



In every conflict in which our Nation has been involved, selfless American service members have sacrificed their lives for the sake of our country and its principles. Too many have never come home, or have endured unthinkable hardship as prisoners of war. On this day, we echo the creed inscribed on the black and white banners that fly in honor of America's Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, and we renew our promise to our heroes, that "You Are Not Forgotten."

We will never give up the search for those who are held as prisoners of war or have gone missing under our country's flag. We honor their sacrifice, and we must care for their families and pursue the fullest possible accounting for all missing members of our Armed Forces. Together, we must serve our Nation's patriots as well as they have served us by supporting them when they come home, and by carrying on the legacy of those who do not. This is a promise we keep for our fallen, for our veterans past and present, and for all those whose loved ones have not returned from the battlefield.

On September 16, 2011, the stark black and white banner symbolizing America's Missing in Action and Prisoners of War will be flown over the White House, the United States Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, the Selective Service System Headquarters, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, United States post offices, national cemeteries, and other locations across our country. We raise this flag as a solemn reminder of our obligation to always remember the sacrifices made to defend our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 16, 2011, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and I urge all Americans to observe this day of honor and remembrance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Press Release:

Roxbury TEAM school board candidates set agenda

Taxpayer Education Association Members (T.E.A.M.)

Contact: Craig Heard for further information 973-219-4542

Craig Heard, Marcus Morreale and Linda Verge, the three candidates running for the Roxbury Board of Education under the Roxbury TEAM banner, are determined to bring needed change and most importantly, a fresh perspective to the board.

The central theme of Roxbury TEAM is to provide the best possible education at the most reasonable cost. An excellent public education system enhances property values and is a benefit to society. At the same time, it must be understood that resources, especially in a poor economy, are finite. Striking a balance between those two factors are key.

The TEAM candidates will do that.

First and foremost is a pledge to put children first by reallocating money to the classroom. Currently, only 49 percent of school district funds reach the classroom in Roxbury. In nearby Randolph, it's 55 percent. TEAM plans to start redirecting funds by increasing high school teaching periods from five to six a day to attain greater student achievement. (TEAM does not plan to increase the length of the school day, only the number of teaching periods) TEAM will also find savings by streamlining administrative positions, which includes the elimination of one of two assistant superintendent positions. And during this time of rising property taxes and high unemployment, TEAM proposes an across the board two-year wage freeze for district employees.

We will also look for savings through new technology. Some districts and businesses have reduced power costs substantially by switching to solar energy. We will actively solicit all available grants and work with all relevant groups, teachers, administrators, students and booster clubs to develop innovative ways to reduce expenses and to improve education. Shared services with both other districts and the municipality will be a priority.

TEAM supports such state and federal education reform efforts as merit pay for teachers, reviewing tenure and increased employee contributions to health and pension benefits.

With such cost-saving measures in place or on the way, TEAM is confident that it will be able to rescind "pay to play" fees for parents, which we find discriminatory and to restore middle school sports.

Transparency is paramount for any public board and for far too long; the Roxbury school board has failed that test. TEAM intends to change that. We propose putting all financial transactions including the budget, bills, contracts etc. on the district's web site, which mirrors a pending state law proposed by state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris. We also will post details about curriculum, class size and a table of organization for district employees. Board committee meetings are now closed; we will open them. We will also look into putting school board meetings on cable television and we will do away with the current requirement that speakers "sign-in" and identify their topic before speaking at a board meeting.

On election day, April 27, 2011, you can find the TEAM candidates on the ballot positions at: 1-Marcus Morreale 3-Craig Heard 4-Linda Verge

The Roxbury TEAM Board of Education Candidates

Craig P. Heard has an extensive background in public service and education.

Heard is a former member of the Roxbury Board of Education and a past president (1997-1999). He also served seven years as a trustee of the County College of Morris and six years on the Board of Governors of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he also has been a guest lecturer. Additionally, Heard served on the board of directors of Anna Marie College in Massachusetts and on the board of trustees of the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

Professionally, Heard is president/CEO of Gateway Outdoor Advertising in Hackettstown. Founded in Pittsburgh, in 1937, Gateway has offices in 13 cities in the US. Heard has a B.S. in accounting and a M.B.A. in finance and taxation, both from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

He has won numerous awards, including the Pinnacle Award from FDU for service to the community and the university, a citation from then New York Gov. Mario Cuomo for his support of anti-drug programs, a citation from the state PBA for his support of local police, and a certificate of appreciation from then U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett for his contributions to education. Heard also received an honorary membership for life by the PTA of New Jersey for both his and his wife's support of Roxbury school children. Heard, 64, and his wife have lived in Roxbury Township for 28 years. They have three children, all of whom graduated from Roxbury High School.

Linda Verge has been committed to community service for the last 25 years. A lifelong resident of the township, Verge, 43, is a graduate of Roxbury High School, County College of Morris and Upsala College in East Orange, from where she earned a B.S. degree in psychology.

Verge owns General Repairs and has been a substitute teacher in the Roxbury district for more than 10 years. Her ties to Roxbury schools are deep. Both her parents, Alice and Richard Frantz, worked in the district as a librarian and history teacher, respectively. Verge serves as Sunday school superintendent of her church, Mt. Fern United Methodist Church in Randolph. She also is a member of the Cornish Heritage Society and has served 22 years as a Morris County Republican Committeewoman.

Verge's family has lived in Roxbury for six generations. She and her husband have two children who attend Roxbury schools.

Marcus G. Morreale has the fiscal expertise to help oversee Roxbury Board of Education finances.

Morreale has been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years in commercial and industrial construction and engineering services. He is a Certified Public Accountant as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner. He holds a B.B.A. in business administration from Niagara University and an MBA from the University of Miami. He also has broad education experience, holding licenses as a Certified School Administrator and as a School Business Administrator.

Morreale is currently an adjunct professor at Berkeley College, Centenary College, and Warren County Community College. His combined background in finance and education makes him an ideal candidate.

Morreale, 48, has lived in the township for 25 years. He has two children who attended Roxbury schools.